In the IPT treatment for depression model, grief includes more than just the death of a loved one. Like role transitions, grief can exist for any change that a person experiences. This can include things like the end of a relationship, the loss of a home or job, or even the loss of an idea or concept such as health or sense of security. Additionally, IPT treatment for depression addresses complicated grief, which occurs when a person experiences multiple losses at the same time or when they have not adequately grieved past losses. Complicated grief refers to the occurrence of multiple unresolved losses, such as the death of a loved the one, the loss of a pet, and the loss of a job. Although these are three different types of losses, the fact that they occurred in the same time period exacerbates the impact that the loss has on a person. There may also be past losses that a person has not adequately grieved, and when a new loss occurs, it compounds the grief experienced because they are having to deal with not only the most recent loss, but also the past loss that they never fully dealt with. Grief is something we that all must experience, but it is easy to get lost in the grieving process.
IPT treatment for depression encourages the patient to recall their relationship with the loss, starting with the consuming thoughts and feelings and working to a more healthy review of the entire relationship. The patient is supported in discussing avoided thoughts and feelings, including those they find overwhelming or unpleasant.
In the case of death, attention is provided to the period leading up to and around the death with an eye toward identifying events that may have disrupted the grieving process (e.g. unexpected or traumatic death) and also how supportive relationships was or was not utilized and what prevents the client from reaching out to those people now. This also provides opportunities to encourage the development of support or identifying barriers to obtaining the needed support.
In our IPT treatment for depression program we also help to clarify treatment goals for those having trouble coping with their experience grief, such as identifying irrational and current beliefs about their loss(es). For example, often times those experiencing grief may develop irrational beliefs, such as “if I ignore this loss and these feelings long enough, it will go away.” The purpose of many irrational beliefs are to avoid despair. If a person gives into this irrational belief and does not experience their grief, they will also be left with unresolved grief, which can negatively impact the way they cope with grief in the future. Irrational beliefs, coping skills, assertiveness training and other skills are addressed in other groups within the intensive outpatient program and complement the IPT treatment for depression focus.
Similarly, our use of IPT treatment for depression also recognizes that with any life transition, people are different places with respect to the stage of change model. Other aspects of our intensive outpatient program for depression rely on the stages of change to help individualize and customize our treatment for you. For example, in the pre-contemplation stage of change, the person is unaware that there is a problem, or of the severity of the problem. In the contemplation stage of change, the person may know that a problem exists but still be unsure if they are ready to make any changes. In the preparation stage of change, the person is aware that a problem exists and they begin to get ready to make changes through education or gathering information. In the action stage of change, the person begins to take steps to address their problem, like starting treatment or putting the information they gathered in the preparation stage into use to make changes in their life. Finally, in the maintenance stage of change, the person continues to use the skills that they have learned to sustain the changes that they have made in their life. If you need help coping with depression and are considering our intensive outpatient program, please give us a call!